A Travellerspoint blog

Scenic Sydney

Farewell to Australia

semi-overcast 28 °C

There is no doubt that seafront cities have a head start in the attractiveness league. Who doesn’t enjoy watching the ferries and yachts while sipping a drink at a quayside bar? Who doesn’t love being able to stroll along a sandy beach on the way to the office?
large_Bondi_Beacg.jpg
This is Sydney’s acclaimed Bondi Beach and, after two months travelling some of the world’s most deserted coastline, it came as something of a shock. While the beach may appear wild and almost desolate it is actually hemmed in with an urban jungle of highrises, pricey hotels and fancy fish restaurants. It could easily be taken for Clacton or Bournemouth in England…
large_Bondi.jpg
But you haven’t been to Sydney unless you’ve trod the sand at Bondi and crossed the Harbour Bridge…
large_Sydney_Harbour_Bridge.jpg
The deck of Sydney Harbour Bridge is vast – seven lanes of traffic, two railway lines and wide walkways – so why on earth are these people climbing over the top?
Walking_the_bridge.jpg
Despite the enormity of the bridge and its equally iconic neighbour, the Sydney Opera House, this cruise ship dominates the docklands…
Sydney_harbour.jpg
With its sprawling sheltered harbour, perennially mild climate, plentiful rainfall and balmy seas, it is easy to see why the British colonised Sydney in the 19th century. Many of the early Victorian buildings survive and there is a wealth of elegant architecture along its many waterfronts…
Inner_Harbour.jpglarge_Sydney.jpg
Sydney has an abundance of sub-tropical vegetation with multitudes of palms and even bananas. The frangipane and bougainvillea blossoms are particularly spectacular at present along with these beautiful tibouchina...
Tibouchina.jpg
According to the calendar this is autumn yet summer simply carries on. Apart from an overnight storm in Wellington and a short shower in Sydney, we’ve had wall to wall sunshine since February 1st. But our time downunder is coming to an end. We are now heading to Japan to greet the rising sun as it makes its way northward for spring and summer. Australasia has been warm and welcoming and we’ve had many wonderful surprises but, without question, the most magical moment was when we spotted this beautiful cuddly creature in a eucalyptus tree…
large_818AD899E8A02AA7D177F9C4B143B48E.jpg
We have spoken to many Australians who have never seen a koala bear in the wild, but we have - two in fact – and we count ourselves very lucky.
G’Day for now mates – hope to see you in Japan in a few days.

Posted by Hawkson 19:21 Archived in Australia Comments (13)

Australia's Blue Heaven

sunny 32 °C

large_Sunset_Mt_Victoira.jpg
The dawn chorus in the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney is a cacophony of tinkling carillon rung out by the bell birds that nest in the eucalyptus forest carpeting the valley floor punctuated by the screeching alarms of cockatoos as they whirl above the surrounding sandstone cliffs…
large_Echo_Point.jpg
And there you have it – in 49 words without punctuation – a simple description of a breathtaking experience that no photo can truly encapsulate. But here’s another view…
large_Three_sisters.jpg
There are vistas, and viewpoints, in every direction along the escarpments overlooking the deep ravines that snake their way through this ancient landscape. Millions of tourists, and locals, daily flock to Katoomba, and a string of smaller towns, to peer down into the canyons. While the more agile hike down the near vertical trails for the sheer pleasure of scrambling back up, we did not…
P1030226.jpg
However, we did climb to the topmost point where a blacksmith’s anvil has been cemented to a pinnacle. The view was spectacular...
Anvil_Rock.jpg
It is Easter weekend and still 32 degrees on the coast but the Blue Mountains are frequently clouded in a refreshing mist and blanketed by cloud. So, as we left the mountains to drive the final 100kms to Sydney, we passed a continuous stream of traffic crawling at a snails pace the other way. We had sunny days in the mountains, but these giant sandstone caves have been sculpted into the cliff face by millions of years of wind and rain…
Wind_Cave.jpg
The Blue Mountains are not high, roughly three thousand feet, and are not actually blue.
It was once believed that the ultramarine haze that appears to hang over the mountains was caused by eucalyptus oil given off by the trees. However, it seems that the actual cause is the considerably less romantic phenomena known as Rayleigh’s Scattering.
large_Blue_Mts.jpg
After driving more than 9,000 kms we have finally dropped off the wheels and are spending the next few days in the heart of Sydney. Before the Blue Mountains we visited Canberra, the capital of Australia. It is a sleepy city filled with bland architecture and, perhaps, the most extensive series of war memorials anywhere in the world. This entire avenue is lined with cenotaphs…
large_View_from_War_Memorial.jpg
Judging by the number of war memorials it would be easy to believe that Australians are continually at war, and the ugly concrete bunker that is the Australian parliament building might well have been built with this is mind…
Australian_Parliament.jpg

Just kidding – we think!

Posted by Hawkson 16:59 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

The Wild Side of Australia

sunny 24 °C

Although we’ve toured the most populated part of Australia there are vast distances between cities and we have driven through thousands of kilometres of nature punctuated only by occasional tiny communities. The 800 kms coastal road from Melbourne to Canberra took us past miles of pristine beaches, acres of lush farmland and through the densely forested Snowy Mountains. There is a landscape painting around every corner…
large_River_scene.jpg

Despite repeated roadside warnings to watch for wombats, wallabies, kangaroos and koalas the nightly death toll is quite disturbing. Speed limits are relatively slow, with speed cameras absolutely everywhere, and penalties are substantial, but the twilight roads are deadly for critters – and sometimes for drivers who hit them. However, the alarming rate of road kill is testament to the abundance of wildlife here. Unfortunately, many of the animals are shy and just refuse to show their faces…
766139ADCF2D800445573843CFF2E18A.jpg
The kangaroos are not shy, we even caught this one in mid flight…
Kangaroo_1.jpg
But many of the animals are nocturnal. The amazingly flambouyant birds are the easiest to see, but the most difficult to catch on camera. Here is just a sample…
large_P1030191.jpgAB4.jpgAB3.jpgAB2.jpglarge_AB1.jpg
However, it was the penguins that we really wanted to see. We had searched for them in vain in both New Zealand and Tasmania – even visiting the Town of Penguin where they were supposed to be – but our last chance was Phillip Island, south of Melbourne. Unfortunately, the fairy penguins of Phillip Island are like spotty teenagers who only come out of the water when no one can see them. And here’s what happened…
Penguin_Parade.jpg
O.K. So these are not fairy penguins – they are not even real penguins, just a clever camera trick. But we actually saw hundreds of the cute little fairy penguins waddling ashore and up the beach at sunset on Phillip Island as they brought food for their young. We can’t show you because of a complete ban on photography, and because of political correctness, we are told that ‘fairy penguins’ are now referred to as ‘little penguins’ in Australia – who knew?

Posted by Hawkson 15:04 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Blooming Melbourne's Glorious Food

sunny 24 °C

Judging by the amount of fabulous food on offer in Melbourne it is understandable that there is consternation about the obesity epidemic sweeping Australia. The location of our hotel on Lygon Street didn’t help, with more than 50 restaurants within two blocks…

Melbourne is supposedly the 2nd most populous Greek city in the world, after Athens, yet it is the Italians who rule the cucinas with their pizzas, pastas and, of course, gelati…
Restaurant..ygon_street.jpg
There are eateries from all over the world here, including A&W which is called Hungry Jacks here, and, naturally, this one…
McDonald_s.jpg
We could have spent all of our time in Melbourne just enjoying the food – the fresh oysters were particularly yummy - but we had a smorgasbord of international events to choose from in just two days. We could have attended the Australian F1 Grand Prix; the Arnold Schwartzenegger’s bodybuilding extravaganza; a marathon poky event at the southern hemisphere’s largest casino or the International Flower and Garden Festival. Using only the following photos as a guide we invite you to decide which event we attended. (P.S. A poky is Aussie for a slot-machine)…
Tulip_stall.jpglarge_Garden_exhibition.jpgFlower_arrangement.jpg
We also slipped in a quick visit to an international festival celebrating the diversity of Melbourne’s residents, but had to leave to avoid eating too much global street food. The paellas looked terrific but we went with some delicious Cypriot souvlaki
Paella_stall.jpg
We probably could have filled a week in Melbourne but we got a good overview from an afternoon cruise on the river Yarra…

large_Melbourne_Harbour.jpg
And we marvelled at the beauty of the Flinders Railway Station – the first real station to be built in Australia in 1910…
large_Flinderstr..way_station.jpg
Melbourne is a beautiful city with dozens of magnificent Victorian buildings. Finest among them is perhaps the Royal Exhibition Building (1880) where the flower show was held…

large_Royal_Exhibition_Hall.jpg

Posted by Hawkson 00:13 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

A Dunny on the Road

Driving The Western Highway

semi-overcast 20 °C

The 800 kilometre Western Highway from Adelaide to Melbourne, through a ploughed arable prairie and dehydrated grasslands, seemed dull following our adventurous four day trek across the Outback and our time with the friendly wildlife of Kangaroo Island. Apart from a large number of dead kangaroos by the roadside the only other wildlife was this larger than life koala…
large_Giant_Koala.jpg
With just a few towns the size of Murray Bridge, Horsham and Ballarat on the road from Adelaide to Melbourne there is little through traffic, so small communities have devised ways to stop the passing trade. The giant koala caught our eye and someone in the tiny village of Keith came up with a brilliant idea when they said, “Let’s put a Land Rover on a stick outside the public dunnies.”
large_Keith.jpg
It worked – we stopped. Now we all know that dunny is Australian for toilet, but we have been experiencing some language problems and would like some help. As an inducement we will send a postcard of Melbourne to the first person to correctly translate this sign…
large_Horsham.jpg
(Note- Australians and their close family members are not eligible to win this valuable prize.)
This is the 1880s bridge that spans the River Murray and after which the town was imaginatively named...
Murray_Bridge.jpg
Fall has finally fallen across southern Australia and temperatures have plummeted nearly twenty degrees. A damaging storm with torrential rain missed us entirely, however, after suffocating in the high 30s we are enjoying the pleasant 20 degree warmth that the storm brought in its wake.

Nearing Melbourne we stopped in the gold rush city of Ballarat where, in the 1850s, the world’s two largest gold nuggets were found. The pair netted over 400 lbs of pure gold worth some $8 million today. The resultant publicity attracted prospectors, conmen, shysters and bankers from all over the world and millions of pounds of gold have since been mined here. The city flourished in the late 19th century with many fine buildings and, no doubt, many sleazy ones. This was the mining exchange where the gold was assayed and bought…
large_Mining_Exchange.jpg
And these are some of the dozens of hotels where the luckier ones could live, and play, in style…
Ballarat.jpg
Ballarat also recognises the unlucky – not in the goldfields, but on the RMS Titanic. Once a year, on the anniversary of the sinking, local musicians gather in the city’s bandstand to honour the ship’s bandsmen by playing the tune that they performed as they sank. Ballarat has absolutely no connection to the Titanic, but it’s the thought that counts.

Now for Melbourne where, due to total lack of foresight, we have shown up on the weekend that the F1 Australian Grand Prix is in town – it’s a good job we booked in advance.

Posted by Hawkson 01:08 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

(Entries 66 - 70 of 516) « Page .. 9 10 11 12 13 [14] 15 16 17 18 19 .. »